Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Hunger Games-A review in 2 parts

I’m not just using a cliché when I say “It feels like it was just yesterday when I first learned about The Hunger Games and the Twilight/Harry Potter phenomenon that it has become.” It does feel like yesterday when in fact it was actually almost a year ago. That was when Entertainment Weekly had their first cover for the film then about two months after that right before my birthday the magazine had their second sneak peak of the film cover (I still have it Aug 5th 2011 issue) and that was when I became intrigued. I got the 1st book on my birthday and once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down (except when I had to “put it in the freezer”at a sad moment-Joey, Friends). Then quickly like I’m sure most fans I got involved with these characters and began looking forward to the movie.
When watching a film based on a book the question is always- How well does the filmmakers in this case Director Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Pleasantville), follow the story? The Answer this time-They did well. Every detail of a 400 page book can’t be in the 2 hour long movie but what did make it into the film stilled allowed them to keep the original story in tacked. Another problem that can come up while transferring page to screen is keeping the FANS who love the book and characters happy, here is where I admit I only read the 1st Harry Potter book but have seen ALL the movies and now I know how all those fans felt. I have learned that when you watch a movie taken from another source you like it can still surprise you and leaves you wondering “what is going to happen next?” I still felt scared when the characters find themselves in danger and sad when one I like gets hurt or dies. It is fun to see everything that you had to imagine come to life. This time around everything that I thought up ended up looking like I imagined. From the look of Distract 12, to The Capital and the games arena and the characters themselves. There were even “sets” I didn’t imagine that were just as perfect.

The best way to describe a movie which already has a fan following isn’t the plot, they already know that but the characters.
SPOILER ALERT-do not read if you don’t know the story…
To do this I have to start with my favorite character Haymitch played by chameleon Woody Harrelson. To me the elder, drunk mentor HAD to be played by an actor who can get lost and be almost unrecognizable in the role and Harrelson does this flawlessly. Haymitch the lone past winner from distract 12 isn’t much of a people person but becomes the helpful voice in Katniss’s head and a real ally for her and Peeta. He also provides some comic relief in a mostly dark story. Then there is Gale (Liam Hemsworth), he is a loyal friend to Katniss and will unlawfully hunt with her outside the distract and hates the capital. I have yet to read the 2ed book but I am sure there will be more to come from him. Next we have Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) the baker’s son, Distracts 12 male tribute for the games, Katniss’s hope within the games and has been secretly in love with her for years. Finally there is Katniss played by newcomer but already an Academy Award nominee and deservingly so Jennifer Lawrence. Katniss is the lead in the story and in my opinion the most kick-ass female character in recent years. She is the first tribute from 12 to volunteer and she does this when her sister is chosen. The story then follows her throughout The Games. From the opening ceremony and individual interviews to the action during The Games, the obectsicles she has to endure along the way and her interaction with the other characters. From the beginning to end we see it all and Katniss takes it on with bravely and hopefulness.

These 4 along with Rue (Amandla Stenberg), Cinna (Lenny Kravitz), Effie (Elizabeth Banks), Seneca (Wes Bentley), Caesar (Stanley Tucci), The President (Donald Sutherland)
and all the rest make the film worth checking out even if you haven’t read the book. Every one of the actors take on their role as I knew they could and they become their characters. If you want to see a thrilling ride with a scary but good story go see The Hunger Games.  

Thursday, March 22, 2012


When a new TV series starring Kiefer Sutherland  was announced I have to say I was hesitant, not because I didn’t think I would like it but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to like it. But being the loyal Sutherland fan that I am and after watching and loving the canceled but wonderful Heroes and discovering its and Touch’s creator Tim Kring I had to give it a try. I watched when it “previewed” in January and by the end I was already hooked and wanted more. The opening episode alone made me realize that between Heroes and Touch Mr. Kring should run for President. He seems to understand people in general and the differences between us and the world we live in. Where Heroes was about ordinary people from all over coming together to do extraordinary things Touch at its center is about a man and his young son, who doesn’t talk but through numbers is able to put events together and help people.
Staying on the same theme as people all around the world helping each other out the first episode of Touch opens on Sutherland’s character working at an airport. He is allowed to take home all of the unclaimed cell phones for his son, when one of them rings he answers but is interrupted and loses it again before he can get the owners information in order to return it to him. Turns out he has to go and help the police get his son down from a tall tower which leads child protective services to show up at his apartment and takes the boy away. I don’t want to give anything away but his son is able to help not just his grieving father but a handful of strangers all around the world, including the man who lost his cell phone and just wanted it back for the pictures of his daughter.
 I was surprised when the connections between father, son and the others was reveled and found myself yelling at the TV and already caring about each of them. I hope future episodes are just as good and this boy continues to connect the dots and that the viewer gets to learn more about him his father and why this is all happening. But it needs viewers to do that so watch Fox tonight (THURSDAYS @ 9) and check out Touch.    

Thursday, March 15, 2012

How to be a judge-High School theater

About five years ago I was asked or should I say I was dragged, I mean kicking and screaming to a local high school’s drama club production of, well I don’t remember what musical it was but I was not happy about having to watch it. Here is where I admit that while in high school I too was a theater geek. Being a part of the plays and musical every year was how I was able to survive 7th-senior year. In fact I am sure the ghost of my high school self is still roaming the halls stalking my crush/fellow performer but that is a different story. So there I am sitting in a sad looking high school auditorium waiting for the audience to quiet down, the lights to go off and the show to begin.
Years later and attending isn’t so bad. I have gotten use to it. Each school is different and each student has his or hers own strengths and weaknesses. A lot of the students, as I did, appear in the shows each new school year and you come to know their names and see their talent improve. 15 years ago a group of people who are artist or fans of The Arts got together and started a county wide version of our own little Tony awards to show off how important The Arts are to the schools. As a judge I have learned what to expect and have come up with my own way to determine who is the best of the year.
Watch as many of the productions /performances you can! Yes that means a lot of traveling and sometimes in bad weather but if you are truly committed to doing this job well then you should see what each student can do and brings to the show. Even if there are three (3) productions in one weekend and you don’t think you can or are too tired to sit through another one. These kids worked hard to put a play/musical together the least you can do is work just as hard to watch.
Pay attention to the entire production. I admit I can be bad at this one, especially if the students haven’t grabbed my interest right away. The acting is important but so are the costumes, set design and ensemble aka those student like I was who are in the background. Each school approaches their production differently and even if the sound system isn’t the best it’s still important to know what is going on.
Take it seriously. Even though this isn’t a paying job you should act like it is. Even if more then one school puts on the same show they will have their differences.
Most importantly after years of watching student put their hearts and souls into these productions I have learned to just have fun. Anything can happen in a live show and that is the best part of watching. So just grab a seat and as the lights turn down and the music (for musical) begins get ready and enjoy the show!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The return of Community

Community returns this Thursday @ on NBC! This is one of just a handful of TV series that while watching I actually laugh out loud during each episode, even if it is one that I have seen before. The characters are perfectly cast and they all have great chemistry with one another. As much as I love all of them, from Jeff Winger (The great Joel McHale to Dean Pelton played by newly academy award winner for co-writing The Descendents Jim Rash I have to say that my favorite character is, if you know me this should come as no surprise, Abed (Danny Pudi). We have the same child like obsession with film and TV and his friendship with Troy (Donald Glover) is sweet yet very odd and fun to watch. Whether it is another Greendale dance, the latest class in which our study group is working on a project or another campus wide, Go Human Beings! paintball fight if you haven’t check it out please do because it is always with tuning into Community.
I never want this study group to graduate!
Britta (Gillian Jacobs) is Britta.
Annie (Alison Brie) is the nice one.
Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) is a good Christian and mom
Troy is just a good guy and Pierce (My sisters’ fellow college alum Chevy Chase) is well watch and you will see.